I am writing this from a Meineke on Chocolate Ave. here in Hershey while I wait for the fine people here to (hopefully just) patch up a leaky tire I discovered en route from DC.
Here are a couple of quick notes from Bears practice at Giant Center. The team leaves tomorrow morning (they are chartering a flight to Winnipeg) to square off with the Manitoba Moose in the Calder Cup finals.
* Sami Lepisto was a surprise addition on the ice after practice had ended and guys were lingering. Lepisto wasn’t expected to be able to come back from a spleen injury similar to what Quintin Laing had. Both Sami and Bob Woods said he’s just skating for now, but it is something. Lepisto recieved a hearty ovation from the guys on the ice when he first went one.
* Karl Alzner did not practice today, but said he hopes to still play in this series. It wouldn’t be until the games in Hershey at the earliest, in all likelihood.
* Keith Aucoin did not practice but was sitting on the bench for most of it with a wrap on his hip. He is officially dealing with a hip flexor.
* Finally, talked to Michal Neuvirth for a feature on him for tomorrow’s paper. This guy has been through a whole lot in the past two years bouncing from team to team, but Caps goalie coach Dave Prior has continued to praise Neuvirth’s resiliency and it has showed in this Calder Cup playoffs.
He could have sulked and wondered how he was ever going to have a chance once Simeon Varalmov took his star turn with the Caps this postseason, but instead he has responded by playing even better for the Bears.
“My goal is always to make the NHL and I am doing whatever it takes to get there and [right now] it’s playing good in the AHL,” Neuvirth said. “I’m glad [Varlamov] played good up there. He showed young guys can step up. I’m really happy with what he did. I think it is good for me, Holtby and [Machesney] so thanks to him for sure.”
So check for that tomorrow. I’m leaving here soon (hopefully) for a pit stop tonight in Pittsburgh en route to Detroit for Stanely Cup final media day tomorrow. That’s a pretty good reason to get the tire all fixed up and ready to go.